Advice: My daughter hates me

They tried to give their daughter a happy, stable upbringing, but she blames them for all her troubles. What can her hurt parents do?

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Our daughter had a tough time through the teenage years and to get her away from the bad crowd we decided to send her to a nice boarding school.

Since then she has blamed me for everything! Now she is married to a lovely chap, has two gorgeous kids and still treats me like dirt!. I usually end up crying on the way home from her place but when I stayed away she rang me after a few months and gave me hell.

Everything still comes back to those teenage years! My husband sees and hears but prefers to stay out of it! I just don't know how to make it better.

Upset mum

Maybe the key phrase here is 'everything still comes back to those teenage years'. Time may have moved on and she may now have a lovely husband and gorgeous kids, but it sounds as if the two of you are still stuck in the past conflicts and until you move past this, not much will change.

Sometimes the people we most want to be close to are the ones we also push away and if the teenage years were tough you may not have found useful ways of weathering the storms together.

You also mention your fear of her finding out you have talked about this so I wonder if she still feels a degree of rejection, shame and not being able to make things right with you - in fact I suspect you both share many of the same feelings of trying to reach out and then finding it goes wrong.

I wonder if you have ever been able to sit and really listen to her feelings and thoughts about her time at boarding school. Often when people close to us say things that are hard to hear we are so busy trying to let them know why we acted the way we did, or feeling our own pain or anger at what they are saying, that we don't really stop and let the other person give full vent to what they have felt and experienced. This may be one of those times when some hard things need to be aired so you can both move on.

I suggest you find a time when you are able to be just with her (no kids, partners or distraction) and take some time to talk about what you both want from your relationship.  How does this sound?

Start by letting her know you love her to bits and would do anything to make this relationship work but you don't know how. Let her know you really want to understand what is not working for her in the relationship now and what didn't work for her about the boarding school experience.

Another option is to express these things in writing - that way you get to see what you have written and take the time to get the right tone - this can be very powerful. Even if this conversation/letter  goes well, it will take time for you both to figure out new patterns of getting on, and you will need to keep revisiting how to keep the communication lines open and respectful. 

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.